DC fans may recall, in the earliest days of learning about Joker, which finally hit theaters last weekend, that Martin Scorsese was set to be a producer on the project. Ultimately, Scorsese wasn't credited as such, but did he have any involvement in the movie? The short answer is yes, but the Goodfellas and Taxi Driver director quietly departed before filming ever got underway. The circumstances surrounding Scorsese's involvement and subsequent departure are interesting.

According to a new report, Martin Scorsese dropped his producer credit, and involvement altogether, as he wanted to focus on The Irishman, his new gangster drama that is set to debut on Netflix next month. Scorsese typically only attaches himself as a producer to projects that he develops to possibly direct, or to lend support to indie filmmakers. Joker didn't fit either of those bills, which made the case rather curious. Things are even more interesting now, considering Scorsese's recent comments about Marvel movies, in which he said they aren't cinema and instead compared them to theme park rides.

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Warner Bros, it's said, needed a producer on the ground in New York City, which is in part why they wanted Martin Scorsese to begin with. Not to mention the prestige that goes along with his name. Ultimately, his producing partner Emma Tillinger took over producing duties, utilizing much of the same crew for The Irishman on Joker, which was directed by Todd Phillips, best known for his work on The Hangover trilogy. Phillips is the one who pitched the movie as we know it, having co-written the script alongside Scott Silver (8 Mile). Yet, there is another very fascinating wrinkle to this whole thing that, it seems, hasn't been ironed out entirely.

The report notes that Martin Scorsese had originally viewed Joker, back in 2016, as something he was possibly going to direct. Then Todd Phillips came in with his pitch, which ultimately found Joaquin Phoenix playing the title character, and that was that. However, a rep for Scorsese says the filmmaker never intended to direct Joker and merely considered producing it. So there are conflicting points of contention there. Either way, it's interesting to get a better understanding of how involved, or not involved, Scorsese was with the DC adaptation.

Another item of note is that many suspected Warner Bros. wanted Martin Scorsese on board to help court Leonardo DiCaprio to sign on for the lead role. Here, it's stated that Joaquin Phoenix was Todd Phillips' top and only choice for the part, for what that may be worth. Joker went on to become a huge success, financially speaking, breaking the October box office record with a $96 million opening. The DC standalone is well on its way to $300 million worldwide and could be on a path to some Oscar nominations later this year, after taking home the top prize at the Venice Film Festival. Critics and audiences, meanwhile, remain divided on the final product. This news comes from The Hollywood Reporter.

Ryan Scott at Movieweb
Ryan Scott